Brian Davis, the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, a PCA church plant in Fort Worth that is starting up in August (that our family will be attending :)), recommended a couple of books that look really interesting on spiritual formation: Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith.
Tag: christianity Page 1 of 2
I sincerely believe this particular euphemistic phrase and others like it were born out of an earnest desire to show that in the eyes of God, our sin is sin. It’s an empathetic gesture from one sinner (though saved by Jesus’s work) toward another sinner who doesn’t know the Lord to say, “Hey, I’m like you and I’m not leaving myself out of this equation.” It’s a way to gain common ground with another person so they might hear the gospel. And in some sense it’s true: we’re all leveled before the judgment seat of God’s holy stare and it only takes the committing of one sin. We’re all culpable and liable to judgment. No question. Part of me does wonder how much of this is the evangelical spirit desiring to eschew the rough edges of truth because they are offensive. The doctrine of hell and eternal punishment is not a popular concept in our culture, let alone that God would be sovereign in the dispensing of His mercy in light of that. But regardless, let’s just say for arguments’ sake the motive is good.
The problem is this just simply isn’t true, at least on its face, which is likely how most people hear it; they probably don’t think further about it within our tweet-size discourse in the West. Different sins have different judgments. We don’t necessarily know what they all are or how they are met out. But Jesus makes it clear to Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:11). Some may object and say, yeah, well, that was the Jewish Sanhedrin and they were betraying Jesus. But the principle is still the same and applies throughout. Some punishments receive greater weight, even in the law. Some sins deserve greater judgment than others and therefore some sins are indeed worse than others.
We always hear the nice, sentimental, comfy, American, coffee-mug-Christianity phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” But isn’t “God giving you more than you can handle” the very definition of a trial, in order that you rest on His provision and not your own? And isn’t the trial designed for this? “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 … In the words of How Firm a Foundation, “Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”
“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13 ESV)
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)
This is something I’ve been noticing as of late (at least from what I’ve personally been reading and seeing on a national and personal level, meaning it may not be what’s going on in the totality of things): that the sustained clamor of secular, anti-Christian, vitriolic chatter is kicking up a notch in terms of the audacity and indecency of it, publicly and in private conversations, among friends I have in the social networking world, even among supposed Christians oddly enough sometimes. The cynical bashing (not just criticizing) of Christians by (sometimes alleged) Christians for holding steady to the faith in practice seems striking to me and at odds with John’s doctrine of love for our brothers expounded upon in 1 John.
From the Nicki Minaj spectacle at the Grammy’s (and the subsequent lack of outrage), to personal conversations I’ve had, to the increasing level of hatred generally toward Christian notions and doctrines informing life at any level, whether in op-eds, interviews on the news, everywhere almost: Christianity is becoming a less tolerated belief system that informs public policy and of course morals.
I had an atheist friend who said recently in our chatting, quite chillingly (since he really meant it), that in the next several decades, Christianity will simply become “obsolete” and go the way of the Dodo bird. Now 1) some may just merely dismiss this as mere chatter and 2) I certainly know that Christ will build His church despite the odds and even through persecution.
But nevertheless, it’s statements like that which kind of put you back on your heals a bit, because it wasn’t just loose talk as a result of defending his atheism. This is something he really believes. The implication coming from him is that Christianity is so backward and narrow that it can’t possibly survive in the wake of science and human progress. In the course of the conversation, how and why it came up is what gives it the context too.
All of this to say: we’re not moving toward a post-Christian era, we’re in it. He’s not alone in his thought on this. I have quite a few other friends, from high school and whatnot, who think exactly the same thing. And it’s quickly turning from just (truly) tolerating Christians to opposing them actively it seems.
I’ve been recently disturbed by some of this because the slide seems to be accelerating. I’m not surprised, but in my human frailty, it is slightly fearful. And for the record, no, I’m not referring in any sense to Elephant Room 2, though that was certainly instructive to be sure and possibly correlative. That’s another discussion though.
I guess all of this is not that much different (in principle, notice) than the hatred experienced by Zechariah from his own people (Israel), who was then murdered by the same in a climax of fury. The Old and New Testaments are always instructive for present times, especially when it comes to persecution at all the varying levels, shapes and forms it takes.
What I’m curious to see is how “missional-ism, and [what I’m calling] Seeker 2.0, that is the merging of the two methodologies of seeker-ism and missional-ism” (broadly speaking, not necessarily the better examples and parts producing lasting fruit) and all this talk of “relevance” and “attraction” pans out in the face of rising persecution and deals with subordination by a culture bent on removing us from the public square, at least at first.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how trendy we are toward culture, in staying “up with the times”: if you support certain hot button issues (and believe me, a time is coming when you won’t be able to hide it), or claim Christ alone for salvation, or attempt to evangelize in any sense, that’s all outsiders are going to see and hear. That’s not to say Christians should be culturally irrelevant. I’m just making that point that it doesn’t matter whether you’re into Radiohead, organic food or whatever when it comes to persecution of a belief system. Someone coming from an ingrained secular humanist mindset could care less about your subjective tastes. I’m just not sure many of us Christians (actual and especially nominal) are prepared for the secular onslaught.
Thoughts? Am I just paranoid? Or do others see a dark cloud approaching in terms of where society is moving? I’d be curious to hear what others think on this, agree, disagree, whatever.
- (Original Article): Obama’s hit — and big miss – Camille Paglia
- (Archived Article): Obama’s hit — and big miss – Camille Paglia
It seems the “glory” and mystique of President Obama is all quickly fading. Not for all, but certainly for many. Those intellectual elites who voted for him are finally beginning to have gotten over the great historical and emotional nature of such an amazing election win. Now to the issues. Liberal commentators, even those at Salon.com and (oddly enough) MSNBC (at least in this one video), are beginning to actually start looking at issues through an intellectual grid instead of blinding emotional infatuation. Of course, with the exception of the Brian Williams of the countryside.
Camille Paglia has written a piece on Salon.com that makes some great points concerning Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last week. She goes after several other points as well. But what really caught my attention was that her analysis of his assumptions of the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) couldn’t have been better stated by many conservatives. She has a way with words. I want to quote the best parts and let you read the rest. Great article.
Let the marketing wars begin? Hopefully not. I’m nervous about what Christian org’s will put up in response, as a sort of unintended deterrent from the Gospel.
While there is a plethora of bad news that continues coming out concerning the economy, and the fog of economic uncertainty (and in some cases dire certainty) continues to creep in amongst communities all over the country, something we believers need to make sure we’re doing is responding to these trials in a way that glorifies God. And using this as an opportunity to share the Gospel to those who don’t know Him.
Though things may certainly not get as bad as many of the top economists and investment advisers in the country are saying it will get, certainly people are already being impacted by job losses, monetary loss, all kinds of loss. Yet, it is in these very times that God’s power shines its brightest in our lives. The Gospel works great power in weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)